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Final Word: Why do we elect a superintendent for Arizona schools?

There is some good news to report on Arizona’s public schools.

Nearly a third of Arizona’s public schools got an A letter grade this year, which is 16 percent more than last year. Part of that improvement is due to the state’s lowest performing students and English learners. Thirty-three percent of schools got a B, which puts a total of 65 percent in the A or B category.

Nice job.

Those scores are mostly based on how students do on the AIMS test. This year is the last for AIMS. The state is currently in the process of evaluating a new test that will measure how students master the new standards, the Arizona College and Career Readiness standards, formerly known as Common Core.

Common Core has been criticized as too rigid and a federal mandate, both of which are untrue and unfair. Teachers have already instituted Common Core, so they may actually be responsible for the higher scores. That was the intent of Common Core.

If our kids actually learn better and master more information, do you still hate them? Don’t answer that.

Instead, answer me this: Why do we still elect a State Superintendent of Public Instruction?

We already elect a governor, and we hold them largely responsible for the success of failure of our public schools, but we actually elect someone else to do that job. Why should the person charged with making our schools great also have to be a politician?

Currently, our state superintendent is under fire for being an Internet troll and making racist comments online. Many have suggested he resign, but he is still running for reelection, and has a Republican primary challenger.

So instead of spending his time right now looking at the new possible tests and trying to refine the new standards, John Huppenthal has to campaign. He needs to raise money, distribute yard signs, and participate in debates.

Doesn’t the job of educating our children mean more than that? Why should it be a popularity contest?

We should allow our governor to appoint a schools chief, and choose our governor based in part on his or her commitment to public education.

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